University Day Marks Birthdays of UNC, UNC System

University Day marks the 1793 laying of the cornerstone of Old East, the nation’s first state university building.

UNC System President Peter Hans ’91 will be the keynote speaker for Carolina’s University Day as it celebrates its 228th birthday on Oct. 12.

This year marks the 50th birthday of the UNC System as the governing agency of the state’s public universities. Hans, a former president of the N.C. Community College System and former member of the GAA Board of Directors, has been president of the UNC System since August 2020.

The campus first recognized University Day in 1877, marking the 1793 laying of the cornerstone of Old East, the nation’s first state university building, and the beginning of public higher education in the United States.

The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. in Memorial Hall. Classes will be cancelled from 1:45 to 3:30 p.m.

On University Day, Carolina presents awards to distinguished alumni, faculty and staff.

This year’s recipients of the Distinguished Alumna and Alumnus Awards are:

  • Michele Gross Buck ’87 (MBA), chairman of the board, president and CEO for The Hershey Co.;
  • Vincent L. Carter ’99, ESPN NBA analyst and former professional basketball player;
  • Estelle Louise Fletcher ’57, Academy Award-winning actress;
  • Rodney E. Hood ’89, immediate past chairman and current board member of the National Credit Union Administration;
  • Eugene Y. Lao ’91, chief legal officer, Prime Core Technologies, and a current member of the GAA Board of Directors;
  • Norman E. Sharpless ’88 (’93 MD), director, National Cancer Institute;
  • John D. Swofford ’71, recently retired longtime commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference; and
  • Julian D. Wiles Jr. ’76 (MFA), playwright, director, designer and educator.

These awards will be presented to faculty and staff:

  • The Edward Kidder Graham Award to Kathryn E. Moracco ’92 (MPH, ’99 PhD), associate professor at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and associate director of the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center.
  • The Rebecca Clark Award for Moral Courage to Patricia Harris, director of recruitment at UNC’s School of Education and previous vice chair of the Carolina Black Caucus.
  • The O. Max Gardner Award, given to one outstanding faculty member from all UNC System institutions, one of the Board of Governors’ highest honors, to Ralph S. Baric, William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor in the department of epidemiology and professor in the department of microbiology and immunology in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

University Day will not include a traditional faculty procession this year, and attendees will be required to follow all of UNC’s COVID-19 Community Standards, including wearing a mask inside Memorial Hall.

For more information, visit the University Day website.

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